Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Life Shape Prayer & Discipleship Module 3 – New Creation Responsibilities Block 5 – Covenant


Key Scripture: Psalms 89:34 My covenant will I not break nor alter the thing which has gone out of my lips.

God is a covenant God. In today’s world the word covenant has come to be recognized as more of a legal term rather than a spiritual practice. Since it was God who first created covenant it will do us good to look at the Bible’s definition and discover how God intends for us to practice this New Creation responsibility.

When the Bible speaks about covenants it is talking about a promise made by one person involving another or an agreement made between two parties. Covenant is personal and it involves a commitment backed up by a vow. A vow is a solemn promise that a person makes before God. The Bible instructs us to not make or take our covenant vows lightly … God doesn’t! When God is asked to witness a covenant, He takes it seriously.

Ecclesiastes 5
4  When you make a vow to God, don’t delay in following through, for God takes no pleasure in fools. Keep all the promises you make to him.
5  It is better to say nothing than to make a promise and not keep it.

It is important we not promise to do something which we do not want to do or that we have no intention of doing. However, if we vow … we must realize that God expects for us to keep that which we have promised and perform our covenant responsibilities.

God does not discourage commitments, in fact He does right the opposite. God encourages commitments and He also encourages us to keep the  commitments we make.

Let’s explore some of the things the Bible has to say about covenants:

Covenants can be:
·        Unilateral Covenants (Genesis 17:4 & Hebrews 6:13&14)
·        Bilateral Covenants   (Genesis 31:44)
·        Conditional Covenants (Deuteronomy 28)
·        Unconditional Covenants (Judges 11:30-36)
·        Covenants offered for acceptance (Matthew 11:28)
·        Covenants withdrawn before acceptance (Luke 17:27)
·        Some covenants can be voided by authorities (Numbers 30:3ff)
·        Covenants can be broken (Psalms 55:20; Matthew 19; 1Co 7)
·        Covenants can be dissolved by God in His time (Matthew 19:6)

One might suggest that there is nothing special about a covenant. They seem no different than the contracts and other agreements we are used to seeing all the time. I beg to differ …

You see a covenant is different than a contract in the very nature of a covenant.

The nature of a contract implies, “I am going to protect myself against you … it’s, my good at your expense … I will if you will … and if you don’t you’re going to pay and I will expose you for what you are!”

However the covenant nature God offers to us and intends us to enjoy with others says, “I am going to give myself to you … it’s your good at my expense … I will even if you won’t … and even if you don’t, I am not going to hurt you, expose you or make you pay.”

Let’s take a look at the well studied covenant of David and Jonathan

1 Samuel 18
1  Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.
2  Saul took him that day, and would not let him go home to his father’s house anymore.
3  Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.
4  And Jonathan took off the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, even to his sword and his bow and his belt.

Jonathan’s motivation for covenant was love … a love which demanded action. Jonathan so loved that he gave:

·        His Robe – This elevated David from shepherd boy to prince … covenant places us on equal footing with the right to stand together.
·        His Armor – Jonathan did not protect himself against David but rather was more interested in David being protected. He gave David his sword, his bow and his belt.
o   Note: David had earlier refused the armor of King Saul but here he accepts the armor of Jonathan
o   We are not meant to be in covenant with everyone. Covenant is special and must be meaningful to be covenant.

God joins people together first for what they can give to the relationship, not merely for what they can get. Someone who approaches relationships based on the thought of “What can I get out of this” or “What can they do for me” is missing the boat. Selfish acts no do not a covenant make or keep.

Some covenants are meant to last a lifetime and beyond!

Deuteronomy 7:9  "Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments;

Important Points
1.  God is a covenant God.
2.  Covenant says, “Your good at my expense.”
3.  We should choose our covenants carefully.
4.  What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Good News (Introduction to Colossians)


The letter to the Church in Colosse was written around AD62 by the Apostle Paul while imprisoned at Rome under Nero. History accounts the first five years of Nero’s reign as the “golden days” however things soon changed – not only for Nero, Rome, and the Apostle Paul, but also for those living in Colosse. History amazes us with how quickly things can change …

The city of Colosse boasted a large population in the early 60’s and was known to be one of the chief cities of Phrygia, a prominent region in Asia Minor near the city of Laodicea. Both Colosse and Laodicea are situated in the country we now know as Turkey.

Whether or not the Apostle Paul had earlier visited Colosse is uncertain and argued by many scholars, nonetheless we know he had traveled extensively through the region of Phrygia on more than one occasion. Without respect to a potential earlier visit, Paul had confident knowledge of the Church in Colosse and was concerned for their future.

This letter to the Colossians is not prophetic but is rather instructional. Had it been prophetic surely Paul would have mentioned the soon coming earthquake which overwhelmed the city in AD66, less than 4 years forward, or the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem less than 8 years away. Rather Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, found it more critical to deal with the fundamentals of the Christian faith and encouraged the Believers in the Church of Colosse to maintain a close watch over the doctrines of Christ. Paul did not address their physical safety but rather their continued maintenance of spiritual security.

The Apostle Paul was more than familiar with the central truths of the doctrines of Christ. He understood them from the standpoint of revelation, not argument. It was his calling to be an Apostle and overseer of the Church and to this call he was fully committed.

Paul’s concern was not that the Christians in the Church in Colosse had been taught wrong but rather that some, having received the truth of God’s grace, were now being drawn away with:

Colossians 2
8 Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.

Bear in mind grave times lay ahead for every Christian living in the Roman Empire. The faith of some Believers would soon be shaken and many would search for answers that made emotional sense. Paul desperately wanted the Church to know and be established in the truth of the Gospel before trouble came. We cannot allow tragedy to determine theology.

We must establish “Principles before Problems” …

Not only were Christians in mortal danger at that time but within a few short years Nero would even execute his own mother after failing the first try; allow his female consort to banish and murder his wife; he would poison his step-brother who was rightful heir to the throne; repeatedly kick his pregnant wife so hard in his fit of rage that it caused both her death and the death of their unborn child; falsely blame Christians for the burning of Rome; begin persecuting Christians, the likes which had never before been seen – like using Christians as human torches to light his gardens; he would spend the state into bankruptcy; crucify the Apostle Peter and behead the Apostle Paul, and finally on June 9, AD68, at age 30, commit suicide rather than face the judgment he knew was forthcoming.

Needless to say, a tumultuous time was brewing and there were so many issues Paul could have taken to account - Yet Paul remained focused on the stability of the Church and purity of the doctrine of grace above all else. He knew the importance of keeping the main thing the main thing.

Troubles may come and go but the Church will outlast them all. The Apostle Paul was not distracted from his calling to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He did not allow himself to be drawn into arguments over smaller matters – rather he stuck to the unchanging truth of God’s grace.

This morning we are going to survey the first chapter of Colossians and secure three certain truths which will never change.

What are we going to learn and confirm from the message today? Without regard as to what may be taking place around us -
1.  The Good News is changing lives all over the world.
2.  You stand before God without a single fault.
3.  We should work hard but we must depend on Christ who lives in us.

Colossians 1 NLT
1 This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy.
2 We are writing to God’s holy people in the city of Colosse, who are faithful brothers and sisters in Christ. May God our Father give you grace and peace.

Note: Paul was chosen by the will of God, not the will of man.

3 We always pray for you and we give thanks to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
4 For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people,
5 which comes from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News.
6 This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace.

The Good News is changing lives all over the world.

15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation.
16 For through Him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see – such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through Him and for Him.
17 he existed before anything else, and He holds all creation together.
18. Christ is also the head of the Church, which is His body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So He is first in everything.
19 For God in all His fullness was pleased to live in Christ,
10 and through Him God reconciled everything to Himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.
21 This includes you who were once far away from God, you were His enemies, separated from Him by your evil thoughts and actions.
22 Yet now He has reconciled you to Himself through the death of Christ in His physical body. As a result, He has brought you into His own presence, and you are holy and blameless and you stand before Him without a single fault.
23 But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firm in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed as God’s servant to proclaim it.

This includes you: You stand before God without a single fault.

Colossians 1
25 God has given me the responsibility of serving His Church by proclaiming His entire message to you.
26 This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people.
27 For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing His glory.
28 So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ.
29 That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me.

We should work hard but we must depend on Christ who lives in us.

These truths will never change! This is the truth unvarnished …

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Life Shape Prayer & Discipleship Module 3 – New Creation Responsibilities Block 4 – Devotional Life


Time and history in this world are divided into two distinct periods
·        BC – Before Christ
·        AD – Anno Domini, The Year of Our Lord

The Bible is also divided into two periods representing two distinct covenants
·        The old covenant was written on tables of stone and secured by the blood of bulls and goats.
·        The new covenant is written in the hearts of Believers and is secured by the blood of Jesus, the only begotten Son of God.
·        The first covenant was aimed at sin and based on law.
·        The last covenant was aimed at righteousness and based on grace.
·        The old covenant brought judgment and demanded death.
·        The new covenant brought forgiveness and granted life.
·        We know the first covenant as “The Old Testament.”
·        We understand the last covenant to be “The New Testament.”
·        The Old Testament covers a period of approximately 4000 years. It is a picture of God bringing Messiah to a lost world.
·        The New Testament covers a period of only about 40 years. It is the simple account of what one small prayer group did to fulfill the Great Commission which was left to them by Jesus.

All mankind can be divided into two distinct groups.
·        Those who do not believe that Jesus is Messiah, Son of God and Savior of the world. Some of these people are good people and some of these people are wicked and evil. However, all are without a Savior, both good and bad, and therefore they are left to pay for their own sins and stand in danger of eternal damnation
·        Those who believe that Jesus is Messiah and have embraced Him as both Lord and Savior.
·        The Lost who are still living under the law of sin and death
·        The Saved who are covered by the grace of God
·        Those merely born of the flesh and will of man
·        Those born again by the Spirit and the will of Almighty God
·        The children of this world and The Children of God

The life of every Born Again Believer is also divided in two periods.
·        The time past when they were lost in sin, separated from God and damned to hell
·        Life since they were saved by grace, reconciled to God and destined for heaven

Although every person who has believed in Jesus as Messiah and received Him as Lord is saved and on their way to heaven – not every Believer lives their life as a fully devoted follower of Christ. Some Christians are:
·        Spiritually cold: They may not be doing anything wrong or sinful but they do not pray, read their bible, attend Church or witness.
·        Spiritually lukewarm: These Believers are only going through the motions of Christianity with no constant heart. Their commitments are dependent on what else they may want to do that day. They are “on again – off again” followers of Christ. Sometimes they pray, sometimes they don’t. Perhaps they attend Church, or maybe more than one Church, but have a loose commitment to the place God has set them. These Believers are up and down in their passion for Christ and have other interests which parallel and compete for the call of God on their life. Not bad people, but simply inconsistent and undependable … there, but not really there … often disconnected from the real life and joy of fully following Christ. These Christians confuse the lost, aggravate God, and cause more trouble for the Church than do the spiritually cold Believers who never attend.
·        Spiritually backslidden: These Christians are those who live life no different from the lost. Their thoughts, words, and deeds belie that they are born again. Although Children of God, they have gone back to serving their own desires and live like children of this world. The heart of God is broken for these prodigal children and all heaven rejoices when even one repents of their sin, returns to the Church, and recovers their life in Christ.

The Apostle John wrote the book of Revelation as Jesus dictated. When addressing the Church at Ephesus, Jesus clearly expected them to live life as fully devoted followers.

Revelation 2
4  "Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
5  "Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place — unless you repent.

Remember; Repent; and Recover yourselves … God still expects and deserves our devotion to Him above all else. Thankfully we have the New Testament as a pattern example. The first Church was filled with new Believers who lived their life devoted to Christ.

Key Scripture: Acts 2:42 “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.”

In order to live life as a fully devoted follower of Christ and insure we do not become lukewarm, grow cold, or backslide into old habits, bad thoughts or a sinful lifestyle, we must develop and maintenance our devotional life.

Important Points
1.  A steadfast devotion to the Bible
a.   Nothing can replace the reading, the study, and the instruction of God’s Word.
b.   Without devotion to the Word we will become lukewarm.
2.  A continuing devotion to prayer
a.   Communication is essential in every relationship …
b.   Especially in our relationship with our Heavenly Father
3.  An unwavering devotion to Church
a.   If we want to be like Jesus we must attend Church – He did!
b.   Jesus still attends Church today – “where 2 or more …”
c.   Jesus died for the Church and is coming again for the Church.
d.   Church is the Body and Bride of Christ and the family of God where we fellowship and break the Bread of Life together.

Supporting Scriptures
        Revelation 3:15          Matthew 18:20           Luke 4:16
Luke 15:7                  Hebrews 8:6&10         Colossians 3:1-3

Hebrews 10:25           Mark 1:21                  Mark 3:1

Monday, July 22, 2013

Operation Long Haul

Operation “Long Haul”

Philippians 2:12-13

12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. (NIV)

This letter was written by Paul to the church in Philippi while he was imprisoned in Rome. It is evident that Paul spent a considerable amount of time with them in Philippi before his departure, encouraging and discipling them in the Word of God. He was now in prison, and is writing to them and encouraging them to continue to “work out their faith” in his absence as much as faithful as they were when he was present.

(Ex): When I accepted Christ at a youth camp when I was younger, there was a man named Nick Nelms who stepped into my life and began to teach and disciple me how to grow closer to God. He was there when I made mistakes and would point me back to God and His forgiveness. Eventually, there was a point to where he had to take a step back and allow me to trust God on my own and build a personal relationship with him without him in the picture – This is where Paul is with the Philippians.

Now that Paul is gone, he is really encouraging and instructing them to trust God and focus on their relationship with Him while he is out of the picture.

But, Paul follows up with the following scripture, saying that “it is God who is working in them” and not Paul.

(Ex): When Nick began to step back and allow me to work out my faith on my own, I found myself really frustrated because I needed to work on “this” more and focus more on “that.” I would even find myself going to Nick with questions about things on how to do certain things that related to my faith. As you would think, he would point me back to God and challenged me to go to Him rather than other people.
I appreciate this now so much because he was showing me exactly what this scripture is saying, that it is God who is working in my life pulling me closer to him and not Nick or even myself.

It says that it is God who works in us to will and to act to fulfill His purpose. Let me encourage you that:

God is on an operation: He is operating on the inside of us and He doesn’t plan on leaving until the job is finished. 

There are a few things that we get from this verse:

  1. God is in it for the long haul – Paul tells them that although he isn’t present with them at the moment, God is. He is with them at all times and is working in them as well.
    Let me tell you, God is with us day and night; sun up and sun down; good times and bad times; when things are easy and when things are tough; God is with us and He isn’t going anywhere.
  2. Godly desires speak of a Godly intervention – Paul told them that God is at work to will; to help them choose God and righteousness.
    The very fact that we desire to grow closer to God shows that God is at work in us. Man naturally has no desire to come to Christ on his own, and lay down everything he has to make Him their master – this is only by the work of God. God is operating on you to give you an even greater desire to choose Him on a daily basis.
  3. God is guiding our actions – Again, Paul told them that God is at work to will AND to act; to help guide their choices in a Godly manner.
    God not only is giving us the desire to do His will, but as well as the power to do so. (2 Timothy 1:7) He places in us the principles of His Word within our hearts and a reverence for who He is as well that it would guide our choices and our actions.

How do we respond to such a word?

  1. Live Confidently a life worthy of God with the confidence that God is with you and has no plans of leaving. Also, that He is working on your behalf and not working against you.

  1. Trust Completely in God with an unwavering faith that is obedient to the Word of God and relies on Him in both the good and bad times.

  1. Love Continuously the people around you day-by-day in a way that shows the love of God

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Life Shape Prayer & Discipleship Module 3 – New Creation Responsibilities Block 3 – Leadership


There is a difference between leadership and influence. Leaders have influence but so do others. True leadership requires a heart for those following, passion, conviction, a sense of direction and most of all true leadership requires the right perspective. Leadership is more than merely occupying a position at the front of a parade.

Key Scripture: Matthew 23:11  “But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant.”

Two years ago my niece and I were driving back home from Austin Texas. US Highway 290 towards Houston is a 4 lane highway allowing for better travel than some 2 lane alternatives. At that time the speed limit along a certain portion was 70 mph for several miles through the beautiful countryside, up and down hills and around long curves. Although it is a fairly accommodating highway, that day we found ourselves approaching what appeared to be a long line of cars driving 15 to 20 mph below the speed limit stacking up in both lanes.

We slowed down and moved into the passing lane but gained no ground. Soon there were cars lining up behind us moving from one lane to the other trying to find some small advantage and get around us at any opportunity. This went on for miles and miles. It can be quite dangerous.

Topping the hills and looking into the distant curves I could see the problem way ahead. There were two cars, one in each lane, both driving along together about the same speed, which was 15 to 20 mph below the posted limit, each refusing to get out of their comfort zone and connect with the fact that they were causing trouble behind them.

Rather than getting frustrated I decided to discuss this situation with my niece and attempt to discover some principles of truth. Since we were in this situation we might as well learn something we could later apply to life. If I had have known it was going to be such a long lesson I might have stopped and gotten something to drink before continuing the class.

One of the principles Teena and I discovered and confirmed that day was the fact that just because a person is up in front, going somewhere with people behind them following in the same direction at the same pace, does not automatically make them a leader - instead, they might be a roadblock.

True leadership is more than occupying a position, having a title or being out in front influencing others. Leadership requires a connection, a care and a concern for those following along behind. Leadership is more than just going somewhere, it is first and foremost helping others get where they need to go. It’s difficult to lead when you don’t respect the rules.

Leadership says, “Come go with me; do what I do; get what I get; end up where I end up; let’s go together and I’ll help you get there.” Unless everyone gets what the leader gets, it’s not true leadership but rather manipulation designed to achieve some selfish ambition or personal goal of the leader. There is a difference between helping others reach God’s goals for their life and using others to get what we want. And, just because we have influence with people does not mean we show up on God’s list of approved leaders. Leaders should have influence but not everyone who has influence should be leading.

And by the way, God called, God ordained and God approved leaders don’t just influence others, they have influence with God as well. Nonetheless, each Born Again Believer has a God-given responsibility to influence other individuals and lead them to Christ.

How can we fulfill our God-given leadership responsibilities at home, at work, at school, in the community and at Church? To better understand God’s perspective on leadership let’s read a passage of scripture that describes the mindset of a true leader.

Philippians 2
5  Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,
6  who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,
7  but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.
8  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
9  Therefore God also has highly exalted Him …

There are two things God seems to value in leadership above all else:
·        Humility (Verses pride or a sense of entitlement)
·        Obedience (Instead of self will, personal ambition or sacrifice)

A leader must value obedience not only in others but first in themselves. We cannot ask from others what we are unwilling to give first. Perhaps one reason why some parents, bosses, preachers, teachers and politicians have trouble getting people to obey is because they won’t.

It is essential that we learn to humble ourselves and obey. First we obey God and then we obey those whom God has set over us. In order to best influence others to follow Christ we must present ourselves as humble servants without a personal agenda and willing to follow our leader. That’s right, even true leaders must obey – especially true leaders must obey.

A servant without a master may do no harm but a leader who has no master may destroy the world.

While the world looks for a leader to make a way God chooses a servant who simply follows the way. According to the scriptures leadership is based on service to others. And, a leader who will not obey God and serve his followers is no leader God will support.

Important Points
1.   One is not a leader simply because others are following.
2.   Leadership is more than influence.
3.   Whoever desires to be great must obey God and serve others.
4.   God exalts true humility.
5.   We are responsible to lead others to be like Christ.

Supporting Scriptures

        Matthew 20:27; Matthew 25:21; Hebrews 13:7&17; Luke 9:46 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Life Shape Prayer & Discipleship Module 3 – New Creation Responsibilities Block 2 – Stewardship


“Steward” means: Manager; superintendent; overseer; (In the sense of one who assists the owner of a farm to manage the household or oversee the fields, and to deal out the proper portion to servants and even children of the owner who are not yet of age.)

From the time we are born to the time we die, each one of us is but a pilgrim traveler on a journey through this world which God created and still owns. Every person comes into this world naked and powerless over their tomorrows. As it is with birth so shall it be with death, each one of us finds ourselves at the mercy of things beyond our control. It is strikingly evident that we are only passing through this world and in need to borrow from the owner of this world everything necessary to this life.

When considering the rich, King Solomon said:

Ecclesiastes 5:15  As he came from his mother’s womb, naked shall he return, To go as he came; And he shall take nothing from his labor which he may carry away in his hand.

In Job’s most difficult days, having gone from great wealth to deep poverty, he considered:

Job 1:21  And he said: "Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD."

You see, God owns everything and He lends each person the use of things they need to accomplish the work to which God has designed them. From the days we spend on earth to the goods we might store up in hopes to pass them on to others, everything belongs to the Lord. In fact, God owns our very life. He is the owner and we are His stewards. How we manage what He lends us seems to be of great importance to Him.

Key Scripture: 1 Corinthians 4:2  Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.

Faithfulness is the single character quality most necessary for stewards. (Faithful to represent the owner’s wishes and not follow the goals or desires of the steward)

Jesus gives insight concerning the rewards of our stewardship responsibilities in the account of Matthew 25 and Luke 12. To some God will say:

Matthew 25:21 “… Well done, good and faithful servant …”

While to others God will say:

Matthew 25:26 “… You wicked and lazy servant …”

Luke 12
20  "But God said to him, ’Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’
21  "So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."

Luke 12:42 And the Lord said, "Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season?

It is required of a steward that a man be found faithful to the owner’s wishes and the owner’s goals and not to just their own enrichment. Everything over which we have control belongs to God. God allows us their use and enjoyment but certainly has a multipurpose plan which He intends we follow. Each one of us are stewards of this manifold grace of God.

What we do with what we have reveals who we are and what we believe.

We often think of stewardship in terms of managing someone else’s money. Although the Bible does speak plainly to us about how God wants us to manage the money He lets us oversee for Him while on planet earth, God also has other valuables which are worth far more than His money.

1 Corinthians 4:1  Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.

We are the assistants of Christ and managers of the mysteries of God which have been hidden from others. We are stewards of truth.
God has supplied each one of His Children with enough salt and light to supply the world in their generation. It is our responsibility as Born Again Believers in Jesus to be good stewards of this grace. We have been given the keys to the Kingdom of God and have free access to the manifold blessings of God and because of this, it is our New Creation Responsibility to take what we have received and represent God to others.

1 Peter 4:10 As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

Important Points
1.   We came to this life with nothing and so shall we depart.
2.   Everything belongs to God, we are stewards of His grace.
3.   What we do with what we have reveals who we are and what we believe.
4.   We will give an account to God for how we use the Time, the Talent, and the Treasury He has lent to us.
5.   It is required of a steward that one be found faithful.

Supporting Scriptures
Galatians 4
1  Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all,
2  but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father.
Titus 1

7 For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Suddenly, At Some Point


I have been preaching for some time now that things are getting better.

God wants us to put our trust in Him and have hope. People without hope will make no meaningful investment in their future. The god of this world, that’s the devil if you wonder who I am talking about, and all of his prophets, would love for people to lose hope in their marriage, their children, their finances, their job, their Church, their community, their nation, their generation and ultimately lose all hope in Almighty God and His plan to redeem, recover, restore, and renew.

Fact of the matter, there is no reason to ever lose hope in God or in anything in which God is involved. Without regard as to how it may look right now, if God is in it … it’s getting better! Sometimes however, better does require some things, and even some people, to change. Believe me when I tell you, God has a habit of changing things suddenly!

This morning we are going to take a critical look at the scriptures concerning  two boats, two storms, and two miracles. Today we are going to discover what it will take for things to get better. For the first suddenly let’s turn to:

Jonah 1
11  Then they said to Jonah, "What shall we do to you that the sea may be calm for us?"  — for the sea was growing more tempestuous.
12  And he said to them, "Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will become calm for you. For I know that this great tempest is because of me."
13  Nevertheless the men rowed hard to return to land, but they could not, for the sea continued to grow more tempestuous against them.
14  Therefore they cried out to the LORD and said, "We pray, O LORD, please do not let us perish for this man’s life, and do not charge us with innocent blood; for You, O LORD, have done as it pleased You."
15  So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging.

It is unfortunate but true nonetheless that: Things get better when we get the bad out of the boat.

God has done this on several occasions in history. There is no way in the world God wanted those people on the boat with Jonah to suffer or perish because of him. The storm was never about them. It affected them … but it was not about them. God was dealing with Jonah and aimed to get Jonah’s attention because God was also unwilling to see the whole city of Nineveh abandoned to their own wickedness.

The trouble we face in this generation is not unlike, and may I add, not as bad in many respects, as the trouble faced by many generations who have gone on before us. From Pharaoh to Nero, and from Hitler to Hussein, in every generation throughout history this world has faced a lot of trouble and seen a lot of troublemakers. They come and they go.

As the Psalmist said, “Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning.” Paul declared, “This light affliction which is but for a moment works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory …” The trouble and the troublemakers in your life are no different. There have always been troublemakers – this generation is no exception. However:

The biggest trouble with this trouble is that it is our trouble.

God has faced bigger and “badder” trouble than this. These are not the worst days God has faced and fixed. And … He will fix the problems we face in our day as well. You see: Things are going to get better … like it or not … Things are going to get better … believe it or not … Things are going to get better, Suddenly, At Some Point In The Future! And remember:

Getting better may mean getting the bad out of the boat!

Now before you start shouting me down because you have identified the troublemaker you need to throw overboard and you want me to quit preaching so you can run out of here believing God to give you your miracle and quiet the storm … hold on … let’s look at different boat in another storm and see what happened. You could be focused on the wrong remedy … --- You don’t want to be the cause of more trouble …

Don’t forget, God wants us to put our trust in Him and let hope provide a place for our faith and patience to grow. Throwing Jonah overboard was not the first thing those men wanted to do.

Matthew 14
22  Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away.
23  And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there.
24  But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.
25  Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea.
26  And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out for fear.
27  But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid."
28  And Peter answered Him and said, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water."
29  So He said, "Come." And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.
30  But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, "Lord, save me!"
31  And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?"
32  And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.
33  Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Jesus, saying, "Truly You are the Son of God."

Both here in this passage and in Jonah’s case neither the boat nor those in the boat could take much more. The storm was big and the sailors tired. Both needed a miracle which only God could do and they needed it now!

In Jonah’s instance a sudden miracle took place they got rid of the problem. In the disciple’s situation, they received their sudden miracle when they invited Jesus to get into the problem with them.

In both accounts the storm ceased immediately … Suddenly things got better. God is and always has been prone to the suddenly.

History supports the fact that God is a God of the suddenly:
·        “Let there be light”
o   (even if you believe in the “big bang” theory - you have to believe in suddenly)
·        Noah
·        Sodom & Gomorrah
·        Hitler
·        Berlin Wall
·        Roman Empire

Future sudden changes
·        In a moment, twinkling of an eye (1 Corinthians 15)

Suffice it to say, things are getting better – Suddenly, at some point! Stop doubting, put you hope in God and ask Jesus to get into the boat with you.

Sudden Support Scriptures:

Malachi 3:1  “Behold, I send My messenger, And he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, Will suddenly come to His temple…”

Luke 2:13  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:  (Peace on earth …)

Acts 2:2  And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.

Acts 9:3  As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven.

Acts 16:26  Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.